In cases involving children, such as adoption, child custody, and child support cases, it’s important to establish paternity of the minor(s) in question. You may know who the father is, but when it comes to legal matters, testing may be advised. This is especially true in cases where the child’s father does not recognize their child or may be fighting against a child support judgment. Having an order for paternity testing allows you to have some legal leverage in getting your child the support that they need to thrive.
On the other side of the coin are paternal rights. Some fathers want to have a say in parenting and support of their children, while mothers may wish otherwise. In the end, both parents have legal rights and responsibilities for their children, and paternity testing is simply one avenue that may provide the stability and security that kids deserve.
In the state of California, paternity (also called “parentage”) is assumed in a couple specific situations:
- When the child is born during a marriage, the mother’s husband is presumed to be the father.
- When a man has lived with a child and their mother in a family-like manner, and has shown commitment to that child, he may be considered the child’s father. This applies whether or not their connection is biological.
Establishing legal paternity can go a few different ways. The easiest way is by filling out a form, called the “voluntary declaration of paternity,” or VDP form. The father may sign this and claim those rights and responsibilities. Because this is the simplest way, it is usually the first option, regardless of the case in question. However, in cases where the father may not be present, may not be aware of the child, or may not want to claim parenting responsibility, a court-ordered paternity test may be called for. Several individuals or entities may request paternity testing, including:
- The child’s mother
- The “alleged” father or father in question
- Any aid or welfare agency providing support for the mother and child
- An adoption agency
Some people do not see the importance of establishing paternity, but from a legal standpoint, it’s vital to many different processes for the child, and the family as a whole. When paternity is clear, things become easier in terms of getting health insurance, creating custody arrangements, setting up wills and other estate planning documents, and being eligible for certain governmental benefits.
If you want to learn more about paternity or paternity testing, reach out to us at the McKinnon Law Firm today and request your free consultation.